Slideshow: Humanity’s Striking Diversity of Traditional Dress

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Humans have adorned themselves in myriad ways, across time and across cultures. Much of it was and remains functional. But clothing is also a canvas for the human spirit. Here’s 34 different ways we painted it.

1-A_person_in_a_ceremonial_dress,_Japan._(10797868904) 2-399px-Flickr_-_usaid.africa_-_Ghana_young_women 3-450px-Yi_woman_in_traditional_dressing 4-276px-A_Dragoman_(1906)_-_TIMEA 5-800px-GARO_TRADITIONAL_DRESS-9 6-397px-Sami_woman_with_white_reindeer 7-800px-ISS-34_Women_in_ceremonial_Kazakh_dress 8-407px-KinsarvikBunad 9-431px-Portrait_by_-_Vikramjit_Kakati 9-Two_women_in_traditional_dress_knitting_NLW3363123 10-336px-COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Een_Gajo_(Aceh)_in_bruidskleding_naar_de_adat_TMnr_10002771 10-400Finland_traditional_dress_PC 10-500Indian_sari 11-400px-Chaman_amazonie_5_06 12-405px-Joseph_Marie_Portalis 13-450px-Chinese_New_Year_Seattle_2009_-_couple_in_traditional_dress 14-400px-Potosi_2800b 15-450px-Traditional_Bedouin_Dress_-_Flickr_-_edbrambley 16-421px-Dress_of_a_Kyrgyz_Woman._"Saukele"_Turkish,_a_Ceremonial_Hat_-_WDL 17-426px-COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Portret_van_twee_Minangkabau_mannen_uit_Kota_Gedong_in_adatkleding_TMnr_60054661 18-492px-Zahadolzhá--Navaho 19-Zahabolzi 20-597px-Rajasthan_Girl_Traditional_Dress 21-702px-Hungarian_woman_in_traditional_dress 22-800px-Traditional_Wedding_Dress_of_Bahrain 23-LordLindley_cropp 24-Sunni_Muslim_man_wearing_traditional_dress_and_headgear 25-Woman_in_traditional_dress,_Sierra_Leone Hooper_Bay_Man_LACMA_AC1997.271.48 Izabela_Tomita 450px-Fort_Ross_Elena_wearing_Traditional_Russian_Costume 27-lossy-page1-800px-Indians_in_ceremonial_dress._-_NARA_-_297948.tif 27-m-px-EmpolleradasPanameñas 28Arabic-traditional-Dress
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The Minangkabau people of Sumatra still practice pre-Islamic ethnic traditions – what’s called “adat” in the Muslim world – in addition to their Islamic practices. These men are wearing adat clothing circa 1900. Image: C.B. Nieuwenhuis, Tropenmuseum.

Featured Image: Traditional dress of Sardinia, Italy. Credit: Cristiano Cani.